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Western celebrates Veterans at ceremony

Every year, Veterans Day is November 11. Every day, there are future veterans who work to protect the country. So, how can we show our gratitude?

Over a hundred people attended Western’s Veteran’s Day Ceremony Tuesday, Nov. 8. President Sabah Randhawa spoke at the event, where he announced a new initiative aimed towards student veterans.

The initiative, the Veterans Completion Waiver Program, is the first of its kind in Washington for four year institutions, Randhawa said. The program allows veterans who have exhausted their GI Bill benefits while attending Western to complete their degree with 100% of their tuition and fees waived, he said.

“We owe you a debt that can never be repaid,” Randhawa said. “But we can reflect on and acknowledge the magnitude of that debt. Not just with what we say, but with what we do as an institution and as a country for our vets.”

U.S. National Guard Color Guards kick off Western's Veterans Day ceremony with the presentation of the U.S. flag Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. // Photo by Alexander Van Valkenburgh
U.S. National Guard Color Guards kick off Western’s Veterans Day ceremony with the presentation of the U.S. flag Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. // Photo by Alexander Van Valkenburgh

The ceremony was hosted by the Veterans’ Outreach Center on campus and the President’s office.

Dominick Cordero is the veterans community coordinator at Associated Students.

“We do a lot of outdoor recreation type things and panels,” Cordero said.  “We connect veteran students and dependents to programs and resources, and also people who want to get involved in support of our veterans’ community.”

Amber Cheremsak, president of the WWU Stars and Stripes club, was the second speaker. Cheremsak founded the club to provide information and strengthen the community bond of veterans and dependants on campus.

“We wanted to bring more access to information [and] build a more supportive environment for our military veterans and their families on campus,” Cheremsak said.

“We owe you a debt that can never be repaid.”

President Sabah Randhawa

Western has about 200 student veterans, 200 students with veteran parents and over 100 veterans among faculty and staff.

“At our booth we always find people whose boyfriend, dad or brother has served. They didn’t know there was anything like this,” Cheremsak said. “So we try to do stuff with the club like raise money for organizations. We try to bring better light to all of our servicemen and their families.”

Audience members pay respect to Western's veterans by taking time to see where they have been Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. // Photo by Alex Van Valkenburgh
Audience members pay respect to Western’s veterans by taking time to see where they have been Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. // Photo by Alex Van Valkenburgh

The final speaker at the event was Daniel Liddicoet, a U.S. Air Force veteran and outreach specialist for NW Youth Services and student.

“The community I experienced in the military is something lacking in our own backyard,” Liddicoet said. “It is something I realized I want to be part of strengthening.”  

While serving, Liddicoet saw humility and a belief in something bigger than ourselves, he said.

“Above all else, I saw a brotherhood of comradery and a community that was willing to sacrifice everything for each other,” Liddicoet said. “That was the chord that resonated with me most. We took care of each other every day.”

Editors note: Daniel Liddicoet is a former photographer for The Western Front.

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